Not all push-ups are created equal.

By Lauren Mazzo

When a trainer says "drop and give me 20," how often do you notice where you place your hands? There's a solid chance you were actually doing a wide-grip push-up when you meant to do a standard push-up. While that's not necessarily a bad thing, wide-grip push-ups work your upper body differently than a regular push-up or a triceps (narrow-grip) push-up. Master all three, and you'll hit every inch of your upper body, not to mention build a strong core, too.

Wide-Grip Push-Up Benefits and Variations

"This is a challenging push-up variation because your chest and biceps muscles are in a more lengthened state," says Rachel Mariotti, the NYC-based trainer demoing the move above. "When they're lengthened, it's harder to produce as much force."

Wide-grip push-ups also take some of the heat off your triceps; a 2016 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science found that wide-grip push-ups recruited the chest and triceps muscles less than a standard or narrow-grip push-up. Instead, they recruit the biceps, serratus anterior (muscles along the sides of your ribs), and latissimus dorsi (back muscles that stretch from your armpit to your spine) to perform the move.

Just like regular push-ups, you can pop down onto your knees to build up strength before attempting the full range of motion. (No shame-form comes first.) Just remember to keep your core engaged and form a straight line from knees to shoulders if you opt for that modification. You can also place your hands on an elevated surface (like a bench, box, or step) to decrease the amount of weight in your upper body.

Ready to progress past a full wide-grip push-up? Try them with your hands or feet suspended in a TRX, or with your feet on an elevated surface. (Here, even more push-up variations to try.)

How to Do a Wide-Grip Push-Up

A. Start in high plank position with feet together and hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, fingers pointing forward or slightly outward. Engage quads and core as if holding a plank.

B. Bend elbows out to the sides to lower torso toward the floor, pausing when chest is just below elbow height.

C. Exhale and press into palms to push body away from the floor to return to starting position, moving hips and shoulders at the same time.

Do 8 to 15 reps. Try 3 sets.

Wide-Grip Push-Up Form Tips

  • Don't allow hips or low back to sag toward the floor.
  • Keep neck neutral and gaze slightly forward on the ground; don't tuck chin or lift head.
  • Don't allow upper back to "cave in." When in high plank, isometrically push chest away from the floor and then push up from that position.

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